BBC iPlayer for iPhone

I think Ryan made a really insightful post about the BBC’s launch of the iPlayer on the iPhone.

Also the iPhone is just one platform, the amount of linux based mobiles/pda’s/wifi devices outnumber the iPhone easily.

Is it just me that is rather annoyed that a portable device with lower user base than Linux Desktop, or even Linux based devices has recieved a version of the iPlayer first? Especially since this release has managed to stream mp4 and has allowed DRM to be circumvented using VLC and user agent switcher.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the iPhone is a really innovative product and it’s great. But for the BBC to develop a version of iPlayer for a device which has a very small market penetration (and costs a minimum of £35 a month plus a few hundred quid for the device itself) but not a desktop operating system with a pretty decent market penetration is a disgrace.

Remember that the iPlayer was originally criticised for only working on Microsoft Windows – it effectively helped Microsoft compete in the desktop OS system by giving it a competitive advantage over other operating systems. The full iPlayer download service still only fully works on Microsoft Windows.

The BBC is funded by taxation. Surely it is a better use of public money to develop a service first for a desktop operating system (equalising the playing field in OS) rather than choosing a brand new and fashionable mobile phone which has a market share which pales in comparison to other video-enabled phones.

Software Bugs

A really interesting article in The Economist’s Technology Quarterly this week about how computer programmers use a range of tools to try and cut down on the number of bugs. “An industry rule of thumb is that a bug which costs $1 to fix on the programmer’s desktop costs $100 to fix once it is incorporated into a build, and thousands of dollars if it is identified only after the software has been deployed in the field.”

Philips MCB204 & DAB Radio

I got a Philips MCB204 Micro Hi-Fi System a few days ago for my room. It’s a micro hi-fi which has DAB and FM radio, USB memory stick support, CD (including MP3/WMA-CD and rewritable ones) and a tape cassette player.

I think it’s a beautiful piece of kit and at just £48, it’s a total steal. You’ll except to pay £40 just for a DAB radio, so for a few quid extra, it’s great having all these extra functions.

Before getting DAB, I never really saw the point of digital radio as I tuned my radio to one of our local stations and it stayed tuned onto that station for about the last year! Planet Rock is an absolutely amazing radio station on DAB though; it plays the likes of Pink Floyd, Yes, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. Since Pandora disappeared, Planet Rock has become my soundtrack!

Unfortunately DAB radio has been going through some problems lately. GCap removed some of it’s stations from DAB. Channel 4 are set to launch several digital radio stations later this year but the launch has already been delayed and several channels were dropped.

Some people will remember when ITV Digital collapsed in the UK. Out of the ashes of ITV Digital came Freeview which is the most popular method of receiving digital television today. It’s possible that GCap leaving the DAB platform could revolutionise some thinking about digital radio and lead to new service which better delivers what people want.

Still, if you’re looking for a really good and cheap hi-fi system with DAB support, you’d be pretty hard-pressed to beat the MCB204.

Number Pad Layouts

Has anyone ever noticed how telephones have 123 on the top row whilst calculators have 123 on the bottom row?

According to How Stuff Works, the calculator layout with 123 at the bottom actually came first.

One theory was that touch tone telephone  engineers reversed the layout deliberately so data entry professionals, who were used to the calculator layout, would take a greater amount of time to enter the numbers. This was necessary as the tone recognition in old telephones wasn’t fast enough!

Effortless Good

Effortless Good is a fantastic idea and great extension. Simply, Amazon runs an affiliate system which gives webmasters a fee for every purchase they refer. Effortless Good is a Firefox extension adds a referral code to when you visit Amazon so that the referral fee is collected and then split between four causes: the Rainforest Alliance, Save the Children, Grameen Foundation and the Participatory Culture Foundation. A fantastic idea and some great causes too (although I’m not too sure about the last one)

MySpace Platform launching next week

The MySpace Platform is launching Thursday March 13th. Myspace applications are launching using OpenSocial 0.6.

I don’t even use Myspace any more but it was really interesting to log on the other day and to see some of the new features MySpace has added such as tagged photos, notification pages on the front page and of course, now applications. Facebook certainly revolutionised the social web.

Stargate SG-1: The Ark of Truth

After the cancellation of Stargate SG-1, it was decided that SG-1 would be finished off with two movies: The Ark of Truth which would wrap up the Ori storyline and Continuum which will have some time travel and all that malarkey. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to seeing The Ark of Truth, especially as it’s a movie: it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s a lot more epic than the TV series given the larger budget.

According to Gateworld, it’ll be aired in the UK on Sky One on Wednesday 26th March at 8pm. It’ll then go onto DVD for the 14th April.

The Ark of Truth stars SG-1‘s Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Claudia Black, and Beau Bridges in a story that spans the galaxies. With our own galaxy under seige by the armies of the Ori — powerful ascended beings who demand worship from “lower” life forms — SG-1 must take the Odyssey through the Supergate into the enemy’s own territory. There they hope to find a device created by the Ancients millennia ago, which they hope will stop the Ori worshipers from killing millions of innocents.

For the Americans, it’ll come out on DVD on Tuesday 11th March. I’d be really interested in hearing from the Stargate fans who read this blog what they think of “The Ark of Truth” when they see it!

Looking forward to it!

Skip Facebook Forced Invites

A bookmarklet allowing you to skip forced invites on Facebook. Fantastic, saves you time and saves you from having to spam your friends. But I’ve found that applications which force you to invite people generally aren’t worth the time anyway. Best thing is to uninstall it immediately but sometimes they dump these on you after you spend 30 minutes answering a quiz.

Cyber Warfare

Just a few musings:

  • if a country launches a cyber-attack on another country is it considered a declaration of war? A cyber-attack could arguably have more damage than conventional weapons: it could take electricity and security systems offline which could endanger lives.
  • Is a country attacked by electronic means allowed to respond using conventional bombs?
  • Given the amount of danger a cyber-attack could cause, should it be added to the list of prohibited weapons which currently include biological, chemical and nuclear weapons?

Thought Experiment II

I recently posted a thought experiment where you had to try and find 2/3rd of the average number.

I said that you can assume people’s guesses are uniformly distributed. I think that’s a reasonable thing to assume, and hence the average of all the numbers chosen would be 50. 2/3rd of 50 is 33.

Simple enough, but everybody else also knows this; they’ll all choose 33. But if everyone else chooses 33, 2/3rd of the average is actually 22. And so on… the logical answer to choose would be 0.

This question links to game theory, where mathematics is used to try and discover the behaviour of individuals where the behaviour chosen will depend on the behaviour exerted by other people. In some ways, this can also be a criticism of economics – economics makes certain assumptions which would predict everyone would choose 0. But in the real world, it is unlikely everybody would choose 0.

Another one 

One of my friends sent me this: “I’m going to give you £500 on a certain day this week but you won’t know it’ll be that day in advance.”

You can’t get the money on Saturday because if you haven’t received £500 by Friday, you’ll know the money will come on Saturday (the last day of the week). But it can’t be Friday either; if you haven’t received the money by Thursday, you’ll know that it’ll come on Friday. And so on.